March is National Nutrition Month and an excellent time to talk about healthy eating.
Not only that, it’s a great way to spread awareness about a healthy lifestyle and smart dieting in the workplace.
Given that 42% of Americans are considered obese, it’s essential to tackle this topic in workplace health programs. Obesity leads to serious, chronic health issues like heart disease, diabetes, and even some cancers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
For workplaces, this can lead to issues with employee absences, increased healthcare costs, and lowered productivity.
Below, explore 21 unique and fun ways to talk about nutrition this month!
Each year in March, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics invites the public to learn more about nutrition. The annual campaign was created by the academy to inspire individuals to develop healthy eating habits and make informed food choices.
The 21 ideas below are easy ways to get talking about smart eating habits at work.
The theme for this year’s National Nutrition Month is “Celebrate a World of Flavors.” Highlight employees’ heritage and cultural customs around food this month by having them bring in specialty dishes that are unique to their culture. Doing so offers a special, inclusive event that can open up discussion about both nutrition and culture.
Not surprisingly, there are a ton of ways to get free, reputable nutrition facts to share with your employees. Check out the printable resources you can hang up around the workplace or email to workers on the Nutrition.gov site. Get insight on everything from recipes to food waste prevention to food safety information.
There’s a longstanding rumor that eating well is costly. With the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s free Shop Simple app, it makes it easier to eat well for less. Not only does it locate stores that accept SNAP, but it also provides budget-friendly recipes for all budgets. One of the best parts of the app? It also shows local farmers market events.
Everyone could eat more fruits and veggies, right? Each week, this challenge offers a goal to hit within seven days — starting simple with eating at least one fruit and veggie the first week and progressing from there. The ultimate goal is to aim for five fruits and veggies daily!
It’s easier than it sounds, we promise. Plus, there’s no doubt you have at least one green thumb in the office who loves to garden! Aside from learning more about how natural food grows, research shows that gardening also helps alleviate issues like depression, too. That’s a double workplace wellness win. Check out our post, The TotalWellness Garden Project for more details on starting one!
If you have an adventurous office, a blind taste test contest can be a lot of fun. Have plates of healthy foods like guava, pickles, kimchi, jicama sticks, and more. Blindfold two “contestants” and have them try the foods. Whoever guesses the most foods correctly wins a grocery gift card. Do a few rounds with different foods to let the employees who want to participate do so. Just be sure to ask about food allergies!
Create a punch card or stamp card that your team members can use for National Nutrition Month. For every meal they eat a fruit and veggie, they get a stamp. After 30 stamps or punched spots, offer them a reward like a grocery gift card.
Not only does water keep headaches away, but it also keeps the whole body working optimally. Without a doubt, drinking enough water is essential to good health and nutrition habits. It helps eliminate toxins, excessive electrolytes, and more. Have your team try the Water Challenge to track their daily intake!
Consider having a lunch and learn event with an allergist and nutritionist. Many different foods can cause allergies or sensitivities, but unless someone pays very close attention to their diet, they may not understand they are experiencing a food reaction. Having a nutritionist and allergist come together to discuss food allergies and health can offer valuable insight to your team. It may also help them start the road to allergy testing to eliminate foods that cause significant health issues.
One of the ways to keep your employees engaged is to offer unique professional or personal development opportunities. For National Nutrition Month, consider compiling a list of free high-quality courses like Stanford’s Introduction to Food and Nutrition, which helps people learn how to distinguish between foods that will support their health or harm it.
Some nights, inspiration for what to make for dinner just doesn’t come. Make it easy for your employees by having a recipe exchange bulletin board. Have employees pin their favorite healthy recipes on a bulletin board in the workplace. Whether it’s a magazine clipping for minestrone soup or grandma’s secret zucchini lasagna recipe, there will be no shortage of ideas for your employees to try!
What’s better than having breakfast waiting for you when you arrive at work? Set up a fruit parfait bar to allow workers to start their day off with a healthy meal. Slice up fruits like kiwi, mango, strawberries, bananas, and the like for toppings. Nut-free granola is also a great addition, along with pumpkin or sunflower seeds for a protein boost.
Many nutritionists and doctors have penned books on the topic of eating well. Just head to Google and there is a plethora of cookbooks, nutrition books, wellness and healthy living books to dive into. Consider contacting a local author to come and chat about their book if your team meets in-house. Or, if you’re looking to host an author out-of-state, virtual works well for both in-house or remote teams. If your company has a book club, have the members read the book ahead of the event to ask the author more pointed questions.
Have your employees take the American Cancer Society “Nutrition and Activity Quiz” during downtime. It’s free! The 12 questions are scored to see how healthy your employees are living. They can keep their scores to themselves or share them with colleagues while setting up accountability options for healthier habits.
For the whole month of March, challenge your wellness coordinator to only order healthy options for lunches. That means no pizza or donuts in the conference room! Think juice bars, vegan or vegetarian hot spots, sushi restaurants, and the like to order takeout from for your team. Or, coordinate a special menu made by staffers that include soups, salads, and low-carb meals.
Pick up heart-healthy cookbooks from an online retailer, garage sales, or local bookstores to create a library in the workplace. Encourage your staff to “check out” one and try at least one new recipe at home. Have them add a sticky note to the recipes they tried with any tips or feedback to pass along to other employees.
Bonus idea: Set up a quarterly challenge for employees to work their way through a cookbook and try at least four new recipes from it at home. Not only will this expand palates, but it will also help individuals get more involved in their food prep to watch what they eat more closely.
Introduce your team each week to a new produce item they may not normally eat. This might include unique options like starfruit, plantains, rutabaga, yucca, jackfruit, and other options. Share recipe cards with how to prepare them at home and offer up samples of each produce item throughout the week. You may also want to provide nutritional cards on the vitamins, minerals, and other health benefits each food has, too.
Find a local food pantry (many operate in churches and sometimes in schools) that needs to restock its community pantry. Have your team create nutrition fact sheets about various vegetables or simple, healthy recipes to be given away with the canned goods. FoodData Central is a great site to pull data from about food. Not only is it a perfect bonding experience for your team, but it’s also an educational opportunity as well while giving back to the community.
Connect with your local radio stations during March to gauge interest in their participation in a “Dial a Nutritionist” night. Callers can request to speak to a nutritionist and ask questions regarding nutrition habits and information. Or, have a nutritionist come and speak at your workplace and ask a local t.v. news crew to tag along. Either event offers positive company PR and also provides an educational opportunity during National Nutrition Month.
More than one in three adults struggle with obesity, making it essential to promote educational materials in the workplace. Given that diet and exercise both play a huge role in preventing obesity, regularly centering workplace wellness activities around both topics may encourage healthier employee behaviors. The CDC website has plentiful resources surrounding trends, statistics, and nutrition information.
Life gets busy and sometimes that makes it hard to cook healthy meals. Surprise your team with a month’s supply of meal deliveries to make dinner time even easier. Plenty of subscription boxes offer a variety of options to accommodate different dietary needs. Pick a food delivery company to use and send out information cards ahead of time to ask employees to list any dietary restrictions or preferences based on what a company has (like Keto, vegan, gluten-free, etc.). This works best with a smaller office.
Good nutrition habits are a part of an overall healthy lifestyle. If good nutrition is promoted often enough in the workplace, your employees may choose to continue making smart food choices outside the workplace, too.
Healthy diets also promote better clarity, improved concentration, and increased productivity as well. Plus, there is a clear mind-and-gut connection that makes it clear diet plays a huge role in overall health.
Beyond National Nutrition Month, continue making healthy eating choice discussions and activities as a part of your wellness campaigns. Whether it’s switching out vending machine snacks for healthier options, skipping pizza days for salad bar outings, or other smart nutrition habits, it will no doubt have a positive impact on your employees’ health and well-being.